It is little surprise that retail investors have wanted a piece of the action as stock markets have gone topsy-turvy over the last few weeks.
Figures from trading platform Plus 500 yesterday showed the scale of this enthusiasm.
Revenue in the first three months of the year soared to £252.5million, a whopping 487 per cent higher than the same time last year.
Revenue in the first three months of the year at trading platform Plus 500 soared to £252.5m, a whopping 487 per cent higher than the same time last year
Almost 83,000 new customers registered during that period as hordes of amateur traders sought to cash in on the choppy markets.
It now has 194,024 active customers, compared with 97,921 at the same time in 2019.
And the revenue it makes from each user rose sharply, from £438 to £1,304. Some of this is due to people putting more in to start with but it could also mean some people are racking up hefty losses.
Plus 500 and its peers have been subject to a crackdown from regulators, who have taken aim at their riskier products which bet on whether the price of a share or commodity will go up or down.The majority of investors tend to lose out from these trades.
Plus 500’s revenue surge did little to boost its share price last night, which dipped 2.8 per cent, or 30.5p, to 1077.5p.
Professional traders sent the broader market higher as they cheered more signs that the coronavirus outbreak is slowing in western Europe and that containment measures are beginning to pay off.
Stock Watch - Treatt
A surge in demand for liquid hand soaps and floor cleaning products during the coronavirus crisis has boosted ingredients maker Treatt.
Trading is in line with forecasts at the AIM-listed firm, which specialises in fragrances and flavours, although management is cautious this could change.
It expects its citrus division to do better in the second half of the financial year, as a fall in prices knocked first-half revenues by 5 per cent.
Shares jumped 15.7 per cent, or 66p, to 486p.
The FTSE 100 rose 2 per cent, or 122.06 points, to 5704.45, mirroring jumps of 1.5 per cent and 2.3 per cent on France and Germany’s main indexes respectively, and an early rise on the Dow Jones.
The rally was driven by turbo-charged increases in some of the stocks worst affected by the pandemic, as countries getting on top of the disease increased hopes that business will start to return to normal.
Cruise ship operator Carnival rose 22.2 per cent, or 158.8p, to 874.8p after Saudi Arabia’s state fund took an 8.2 per cent stake in the group.
British Airways-owner IAG surged 7.2 per cent, or 16.3p, to 242.7p, and aeroplane engine servicer Rolls-Royce closed 12.8 per cent higher, up 38p, to 335.7p.
And the domestically-focused FTSE 250, which rose 5.1 per cent, adding 756.60 points, to finish at 15568.96, was boosted by even bigger leaps from the likes of Cineworld – up 49 per cent, or 19.4p, to 59p – and shopping centre owner Hammerson, which climbed 34.7 per cent, or 19.8p, to 77p.
Brokers are also starting to look for green shoots in the market, with brokers at Liberum upgrading Stagecoach (down 0.6 per cent, or 0.45p, to 75.95p) and Go-Ahead (up 2.2 per cent, or 22p, to 1027p) to ‘buy’, saying there are ‘potential opportunities’ in public transport and that both stocks stand to recover well once the crisis is over.
Elsewhere, mid-cap security group G4S added 14.6 per cent, or 11.82p, to 92.86p as it completed the sale of its cash-handling business to US group The Brink Company for £670million.
It has received about half of this cash so far.
Building materials supplier SIG fell 0.8 per cent, or 0.15p, to 19.85p after the Competition and Markets Authority referred the sale of its Building Solutions unit to Kingspan for a more in-depth investigation.
Premier Oil made strong gains – rising 13.4 per cent, or 3.36p, to 28.45p – despite abandoning an oil exploration well in Alaska which turned out to be a dud.
But its partner in the project, AIM-listed 88 Energy, nosedived 71.8 per cent, or 0.79p, to 0.31p.
Ecuador-focused mining group Solgold, which is a favourite of retail investors, fell 3.8 per cent, or 0.7p, to 17.7p, despite finding its Cascabel copper-gold asset was bigger than expected.